The Claims

What are these claims about? 

Professor Carolyn Roberts is filing claims in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (a specialist court based in London which hears and decides cases involving competition law issues in the UK) on behalf of millions of households who may have been overcharged for their water bills.

The claims are against six water companies, each of which holds a monopoly position for providing water and sewerage services to household customers in their geographic area.

In the UK it is unlawful for a company with monopoly power (or a dominant position in the market) to abuse its position in the market, for example by charging excessive prices, or misleading regulators.

Professor Roberts argues that each of these six water companies have broken competition laws by misleading their regulators (the Environment Agency and Ofwat) as to the number of pollution incidents, being spills of untreated sewage they made into rivers, lakes, coastal areas and other waterways that have adverse environmental impacts. Water companies are required to report this kind of incident as part of their legal duties and responsibilities and the number of incidents is considered by Ofwat when setting the price these companies are ultimately allowed to charge consumers.  

By underreporting the number of sewage spills into the environment, Professor Roberts argues that the water companies have been able to charge higher prices to their customers for sewage services than they could have if they had accurately reported the number of pollution incidents. This is because the prices water companies charge for water and sewerage services are linked to performance objectives set by Ofwat. Some of these performance objectives are set to encourage water companies to reduce the number of sewage spills into the environment. When a water company fails to meet a performance objective, Ofwat has the power to impose a penalty on the water company. Likewise, if a water company performs better than the objective set, Ofwat can reward the company.

By providing misleading information to Ofwat, the water companies may have avoided penalties for underperformance against their performance objectives, and in some instances received rewards. As a result, water companies may have been able to charge higher prices to consumers. Penalties would have been paid back to consumers through lower water bills over a period of time and/or through customer rebates. Likewise, rewards may have resulted in consumers paying even more for their water bills. Professor Roberts and her lawyers argue that the six water companies’ conduct amounts to an abuse of a dominant position for the purposes of competition law.

As a result of the serial and serious under-reporting at the heart of these claims, water companies have been avoiding being penalised by Ofwat. I believe this has resulted in consumers being unfairly overcharged for sewage services.”

Professor Carolyn Roberts

Professor Carolyn Roberts is seeking hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation for consumers from the six water companies in respect of alleged competition law infringements.

If you pay or have paid for wastewater services provided by any of the six water companies below, you could be entitled to compensation. Please check the relevant period for each water company by clicking the links below: